View Full Version : Sanding in reverse.

7th Jun 2010, 06:34 PM
A bit of discussion has been on this subject.

So I am interested.

I sand in reverse most times for 3 reasons:
1: The extractors pick up the dust easier.
2: It is easier to hold the paper at the top of the work than underneath.
3: The sawdust doesn't tend to clog the paper.

Except at Jeffs I have never had a drive, faceplate or chuck come off while sanding, but I make sure they are tight.

7th Jun 2010, 06:36 PM
Sorry Cliff but rats ring doesn't seem an option in this one.:D

7th Jun 2010, 06:50 PM
Hey ,

My old Lathe was a bit agricultural and I could make it go backwards by making the belt into a figure of 8 and sand in reverse, Since I have had the new (er) lathe I have got my tool work to a stage where I only need to do a bit of hand sanding on the end grain bits and it's all systems go. Hopefully my next lathe will have one of those electronic jiggers that makes it go faster and backwards at the twist of a knob, without belt changes (one day) Please note that I don't do a lot of stuff other than pens and pepper grinders and the odd platter and small bowl. I have joined the local woodturners group and they are filling my head with ideas so I might be expanding my resume in the future.


7th Jun 2010, 06:55 PM
I think the poll should have a "Sometimes" option. :D Cause thats my answer.

Big Shed
7th Jun 2010, 06:57 PM
I do, because now I can, and for all the reasons mentions.

My old MC900 couldn't be put in reverse, so this is new to me.

7th Jun 2010, 07:01 PM
I think the poll should have a "Sometimes" option. :D Cause thats my answer.Ok, just for you.:wink::D

tea lady
7th Jun 2010, 08:16 PM
Ok, just for you.:wink::Dand mee too! :cool: When I am using a lathe that can go in reverse.:rolleyes::U

7th Jun 2010, 08:17 PM
Thanks . I will put myself down as a "yes" because I will set myself up for it, because of 1) if nothing else. Hope will reduce my aversion to sanding. :)

EX's Timber
7th Jun 2010, 08:42 PM
On the very rare occasion when I find myself turning, I sand both directions, so yes to both yes & no.

dai sensei
7th Jun 2010, 08:52 PM
My lathe doesn't go in reverse, but I use an electric sander going in both directions sometimes when sanding marks are obvious.

Captain Chaos
7th Jun 2010, 09:00 PM
No; because I can't:no:. I have a Nova TL 1500 lathe with manual speed change and no reverse. When I strike it rich, I'll probably buy a variable speed & reversible lathe but until then:sad1:. As I understand it, sanding in one direction only tends lay the fibers down & compact them against the surface. They can "stand back up" again giving a rough finish. Reverse sanding is supposed to draw the fibers up and break (?) them off & hopefully giving a finer finish. Another way of doing this I've been informed is to wipe the surface with a damp cloth and sanding. I've not done this yet so cannot vouch for its effectiveness.

Nothing is for free, everything else we pay for.

7th Jun 2010, 09:56 PM
"Another way of doing this I've been informed is to wipe the surface with a damp cloth and sanding. I've not done this yet so cannot vouch for its effectiveness"

Yes - a slightly damp cloth does make the laid down fibres stand up ready to be sanded flat and too damp a cloth can result in some interesting effects with soft/ harder wood in an object or board

Just try it and do the closed eyes touchy feel of the surface and you will feel the difference


7th Jun 2010, 10:13 PM
I am confused now. Is the poll about who likes/would like reversing the rotation of the lathe for sanding, whatever the reasons, or about who considers sanding both ways worth the effort? The latter can be achieved in other ways, not necessarily with the former.

7th Jun 2010, 11:14 PM
I use reverse occasionally when I'm trying to sand furry timbers like Poplar - seems to help pick up the fibres that otherwise just lay over and burnish :shrug:

7th Jun 2010, 11:27 PM
I occasionally sand in reverse , with trepidation!!:oo:
If I have a turned a bit of burl with gaps in it, I reverse sand to get rid of the sharp feeling bit on the trailing edge.
Otherwise, I stick to one direction.

Cliff Rogers
7th Jun 2010, 11:30 PM
Sorry Cliff but rats ring doesn't seem an option in this one.:D
I sand both ways for each grit & sometimes I even hand sand with the grain while it is stopped before moving to the next grit.

Another trick to get a really good finish is sand both ways & then wet the timber to stand up the grain & then run the lathe with a fan blowing on it to dry it & then sand it both ways again.... slow process but it gives a good end result.

7th Jun 2010, 11:36 PM
<!-- google_ad_section_start -->Had a reverse switch on an earlier lathe and never used it, so it wasn't an issue when my latest lathe came without one.

On the odd occasion when I need to get the same benefits of reversing the lathe, I just turn the lathe speed right down and run my power sander in the same direction as the rotating piece.


7th Jun 2010, 11:42 PM
Sorry, I don't sand... :D

8th Jun 2010, 02:59 AM
Rarely, but I have a reversible drill. Sometimes alternate hand and power sanding to help remove sanding scratches.

robo hippy
8th Jun 2010, 03:53 AM
Most of the time I power sand so reverse isn't necessary. Some times when I am sanding without the lathe turned on, on the inside of the bowl, I will spin the bowl in reverse. When hand sanding, I do use reverse, but hand sanding for me is mostly end grain turned boxes.

As to your dust collector getting more of the dust, an open hose gets some of the dust, a big funnel will get more of the dust, a hood that encloses most of the bowl will get almost all of the dust. Whether the lathe is in forward or reverse makes little difference.

robo hippy

Grumpy John
8th Jun 2010, 09:03 AM
Yes, more than no, so my answer would be mostly. If mostly was an option (hint hint). Mainly for reasons 1 & 2.

8th Jun 2010, 09:44 AM
Sorry, I don't sand... :D

Impressed even more straight off the tool :2tsup::2tsup::2tsup:

I have no reversing switch but have sanded in reverse by remounting the job.

Gil Jones
8th Jun 2010, 11:09 AM
To qualify my "yes" answer, I sand in forward and reverse. Sometimes I change spindle direction each time I change grits (not the eating kind), and sometimes not. I do find it useful and much safer if the chuck, faceplate, or donut chuck has at least one grub screw (two is better) to keep the tool on the spindle in reverse. Also, I have found that with enough vibration (not from sanding), a chuck WILL quickly rotate OFF the spindle while turning in the FORWARD direction. Sounds odd, but I have had it happen several times. Hence, I tighten my chuck/faceplate grub screws tight with every use. And, if the chuck or faceplate does not have grub screws, I drill and tap so it will have them.

Ed Reiss
8th Jun 2010, 11:42 AM
Never felt a need to reverse sand, even though I wired a switch to the motor to do so.
Very often have power sanded (reversible drill) using a very soft foam pad with the piece stationary...this works great for any swirls or rough spots where the grain deviates from normal.

8th Jun 2010, 12:03 PM
I believe that it has a lot to do with technique, and tool sharpness.

When I first started turning, I fixed up an washing machine auxiliary motor on my old lathe, which could be run eiither way, with a judicious spin in the required direction. This allowed me to alternate direction with successive grits.

I HAD to do this, as no matter how carefully and thoroughly I sanded, and how good a finish I achieved, a couple of days/weeks later, there would be grain raising its ugly head again.

Followed this practice for several years, until I moved continents, when the aux set-up fell by the wayside. Lo and behold!!! When I discarded the practice, I did not find a return of the grain raising which had plagued me:).

I am convinced that my early ham-handed techniques and crude blunt tools were to blame.......... bruising and damaging the timber below the surface.

While I do have problems sanding out bruised or torn grain from time to time, I have nevr again experienced the "whole piece" phenomenon of the early days.

Another change in technique I made over the years, was to slow the lathe while sanding, and lighten my touch. The criterion I use: I never sand with any form of heat pad, just with bare fingers under a single layer of sandpaper. If I start burning my fingers, either I am too fast, pressing too hard, or the paper is kn@ckered.

my 2c

8th Jun 2010, 12:10 PM
I don't because my lathe doesn't go backwards... yet. I have a VFD that will make it's way onto it at some point and will give it a try then. Sounds like an interesting idea.


tea lady
8th Jun 2010, 12:24 PM
Reverse sanding would really only make a differance finish wise on flat work wouldn't it? Cos the grain is always half the time going the wrong way. So sanding will get the reversed grain.

Sanding 's big stools it feels safer reverse sanding cos your hand is on top of the work. More natural stance too. You can lean you weight into it. With your hand underneath it would feel like your arm could be dragged in between the lathe and the enormous spinning bit of wood.:C And you have to pull your hand upwards. Can't get your weight behind it. :think: Plus you can see what you are doing. :shrug: :)

8th Jun 2010, 01:14 PM
.....Sanding 's big stools......Geeeez TL :C - not when I'm about to tuck into lunch :puke:

8th Jun 2010, 05:11 PM
I voted no because my lathe and drill won't spin in reverse as yet.

In fact until a few weeks ago I wasn't even aware that it could be done and the benefits of it which is not surprising as I only took up turning after last years WWS in October. This subject is part of the steep learning curve.

I am looking into getting reverse switches on both the lathe and drill press and then I'm sure I will try it out.

BTW anyone adapted a MC900 clone by fitting a reversing switch?


8th Jun 2010, 05:23 PM
Most of my lathes have a reversing switch, but I never sand in reverse.
It doesn't matter if you sand forwards or reverse, you still sand circular scratches into your work. Like Cliff, I stop the lathe after every grit and sand with the grain. All of my large pieces are sanded off the lathe.

8th Jun 2010, 08:14 PM
can't reverse my lathes,

I feel an important thing for my between centre work, is to stop the lathe in the early stages of sanding. around 80 120 grit....and sand it with the grain by hand, while turning it slowly to ensure the coarse cross grain scratches don't show up latter on.

I like the idea of the paper not clogging as much though by going in reverse.